USL Week 9 Recap: Upsets Shake up the East

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

The surprise of Week 9 had to be the upset results, especially in the Eastern Conference where the Rochester Rhinos lost their second game of the season and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds pulled off a big win.

The erratic nature of the USL schedule does lead to the potential of major upset from week to week. However, the number provided in this set of fixtures are higher than normal. These results do throw the standings into a bit of chaos as teams were making their ascension, opening the door for the more consistent teams to hold down their lead.

ROCHESTER SUFFERS ANOTHER LOSS

The unbeatable mystique of the Rochester Rhinos has faded in 2016 after the team dropped an early game to Richmond and now drop a major upset result to Orlando City B. The new team formed by MLS side Orlando City SC has had a rough start to the season as their reserve side has struggled with consistent performances. The team had only managed one win in their last four games and two total for the entire season.

The game itself did not go as expected either. Orlando City B seemed to boss Rochester around the field with more precise passing and even stronger spells of possession. Forward Haji Barry was the star of the game with two goals on either side of the half to put the game out of reach. They were his first two of the season in only his fifth game. Rochester did attempt a late comeback when Steeven Dos Santos converted an 86th minute penalty, but it wasn’t enough as Rochester drops points yet again.

By this point in 2015, the Rhinos had established themselves as the class of the Eastern Conference. This season, things are different as the team cannot find consistency on defense with New York being the best in that department a third of the way through 2016. That will move the defending USL champs to seventh place in the standings, one point below the cut off for playoff spots in the USL.

PITTSBURGH WINS — BUT LOSES AT THE SAME TIME

This has been a nightmare of a season for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

After results did not go their way early in the season, a dastardly act by Romeo Parkes sees the side lose their top striker. To make matters worse, the organization has agreed to mutually part ways with head coach Mark Steffens after more than two years with the club.

The game against Toronto FC II was the bright spot as the team won their first home game of 2016 and scored multiple goals for only the third time time all year. Lebo Moloto and Corey Hertzog were the offensive leaders on the team with Moloto’s goal off a corner in the 68th minute being the deciding factor. Toronto did make a late push with an 83rd minute goal by Malik Johnson, but it wasn’t enough as the Riverhounds have their first win of 2016.

WEEK 9 RESULTS:

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 3
Portland Timbers FC 2: 1

New York Red Bull II: 1
FC Montreal: 0

Toronto FC II: 1
Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 2

Charleston Battery: 1
Wilmington Hammerheads: 0

Louisville City FC: 0
Richmond Kickers: 0

OKC Energy FC: 1
San Antonio FC: 0

St. Louis FC: 5
Tulsa Roughnecks: 2

Swope Park Rangers: 1
Rio Grande Valley FC: 4

Orange County Blues FC: 1
Real Monarchs SLC: 3

Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 3
Arizona United SC: 1

Bethlehem Steel FC: 1
Harrisburg City Islanders: 3

Rochester Rhinos: 1
Orlando City B: 2

LA Galaxy II: 1
Seattle Sounders FC 2: 1